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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, everyone.

TL;DR

Two Rock Pigeons are growing a healthy squab on my window sill. I like the birds but the nest smells really bad and is dirty, as one would expect. The way the nest is set up, it is very possible for mites and all kind of unsanitary bacteria from the droppings or whatnot to enter my home. I will not interfere wit the nest, and let the pigeons raise their squab, but once it fledged, I don't know what to do with the nest. I'd like to have the pigeons back (or remain, in case they'll just stay) but that old nest has got to go. If I clear the nest (the whole area must be cleaned), will the pigeons come back and build another one? This will be fine by me, until I'll have to clean it up again, but since it doesn't begin to smell right away, I think I can live with the nesting, hatching and fledging cycle. I wouldn't mind even building the pigeons a new nest after I cleaned the old one, since it is only made out of small branches, but I doubt it will work - I read the pigeons have their on process of doing that.

So I could really use some advice, what do to?


Long version:

A little more than a month ago, Two Rock Pigeons began nesting on my window sill. I immediately took a liking to them, not in the least due to the most excellent location they chose - it was hard not to appreciate their cleverness in choosing this spot (if we ignore the human element, which in this case is me, so it's all good). The setup is as follows:

There is the most outward layer which is composed of shutters, then there is the mesh net, and then the glass window. All three can are sectioned into two parts and each part can be moved horizontally. The pigeons used a gap between the shutters and the mesh net, and made their nest between the part of the shutters that are completely closed, and the glass window. This gives the effect of an ant farm, only with pigeons instead of ants, and I can watch all of their activities, which I found very fascinating and endearing.

Anyway, the pigeons made their nest, laid an egg (just one) and incubated it. Since then, the egg has hatched and there is a squab about 15 days old (I think) the pigeons are taking care of, and I get to see the whole thing, including feeding and whatnot. The squab looks healthy and is doing just fine.

I really like this setup and would love to keep hosting the birds, but there is only one problem - the nest really stinks. As you could imagine, there is bird droppings everywhere and there is no direct wind at the nest since it is located behind a section of closed shutters that act as a wall. Again, from the pigeons' perspective, it is a really smart location. No access to anything that can threaten them. The only downside is that it is in a rather narrow groove, about 10cm wide, with an extra 7cm of room at most that can be used only if the pigeons elevate themselves from the small trench they are in, which means they can't spread or flap their wings when they are in the nest--they need to walk along the ensconced area until they get to the window sill. Not sure if it'll be good for an energetic squab once it fully grows, but for now it's fine. But I digress.

What makes the nest location so smart also makes it smell really bad and it invades my home, and mites, and bacteria from the droppings and the dirty nest could enter my home. I won't interfere with the nest until the squab is fully grown and fledges, but there is no way around cleaning it all up and discarding the nest. Questions:

1. I've read that pigeons might lay an egg at the same nest even before the squab fledges. That would be a problem because the old nest must go. If I clear the old nest, will the pigeons come back (I want them to).

2. If I remove the old nest, clean up the area, and make them another nest (which is just a bed of small branches), will they use it?

3. If they lay another egg and I clear the nest and clean the area, touch the new egg (there is no egg right now, just trying to think ahead) in order to clean, then make a new nest and place the egg in it, will they come back? Will they incubate the egg?

4. I've read that Rock Pigeons may build a new nest elsewhere while they are raising the squab (when it is close to fledging) and then they'll lay their eggs in the new nest. Is that true? Will they then come back later to the old nest to lay eggs in it again? If They leave for a few weeks and I clean the nest, will they come back and build a new one at the same place (or use the one I'll build them)?

5. What do I do if the pigeons don't leave the old nest and just lay more eggs in it? The old nest has to be cleaned, there is just no way around it.

Congrats for making it all the way thorough, and thanks for you help!
 

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Can you maybe post a photo of the nest? Best will be to wait until the babies have fledged and then clean the whole area. If new eggs get laid, you will just have to remove them until the area gets cleaned. If you build a new nest, they might go elsewhere. Why don't you leave the nest as it is and just give a good clean around it? Not all pigeons have mites and no bacteria will enter your home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks for the reply.

Yes, I will definitely wait until the babies have fledged. I just hope there will be a small reprieve after that so that I could clean the area.

I took the pictures while the parents were away. As you can see from the picture [I hope - the first picture comes up rotated the wrong way, sorry], we are talking about a very tight space and all the bird droppings just can't be healthy and it'll be very easy for mites or any tiny insect to enter my home because there are large enough gaps that were made as grooves to move the blinds, net and windows. Ever since they nested I also stopped using my treadmill so they won't scare and leave. Will they still scare if I put up some sort of draping in the room at the area the birds are, so they won't scare of the movement?
 

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Can't believe they found that spot to built a nest and raise the baby! The area really is not that dirty, I expected much worse. Just leave things the way it is for now and don't put up anything that might scare the parents. You don't want them to stop feeding the baby now. So what's on the other side of the shutters? Is there a balcony or at least something for the baby to walk on once he starts to follow the parents. He also needs room to excercise his wings once he gets bigger.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Yes, this spot is so clever! There is absolutely nothing that can get to them. I'm on the 2nd floor so nothing can get there - no cats or anything else. On the other side of the shutters is a very narrow ledge of a few centimeters. The good thing is that under that ledge there is a small roof of sorts that extends from the apartment below, so even if the squab falls by accident [once he's grown and can get out], he'll probably still be fine.

There is definitely no room for spreading wings where the nest is, though. Once the squab is grown, he'd have to walk along the shutters like his parents do, and, if he'd face outward [face toward the direction of the shutters] he'd have the horizontal space to spread and exercise his wings, on a small ledge to walk on, though it is quite narrow, but extends all along the window. There are also some vertical steel bars [once used for hanging laundry] he could hop on, like his parents do, and on them he'll have all the space he'll need to exercise his wings too, but it all requires a bit of precision, which his parents seem to manage. Again, the good part is that if it'll fall he'll probably still be ok due to the platform beneath.

I would have liked to feed them but the whole setup is so constricted that unless I open the glass window from the baby's side [which I won't do], it is really a challenge to do anything without scaring the birds away by moving either of the shutters, nets and glass window. The picture may not show it but it is actually a very wide window which stretches more than 4 meters wide.

The area might not look that dirty, but it does smell. After the fledging, would it help if I cleaned the area, save some of the branches, and line the place with newspaper? Would they come back then? I really hope they won't lay an egg right away, before I can get rid of the smell.
 

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Yes, you can put down newspapers and make another nest on top of it. Cleaning will be so much easier in the future then. Hopefully they will continue to breed there. Well, if they don't come back, then at least you were able to watch this little one being raised. Not many people have that opportunity. Enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
A quick update:

The squab is growing nicely, and is quite big right now. I noticed him flapping his wings in the nest, probably just stretching his limbs and releasing some energy. Since his location is so confined, and since there is only a narrow ledge for him to walk on when he'll finally walk outside, I managed to fix a small platform for him and his parents right at the exit to the outside world from where they are. I took a flat piece of wood and secured it to the horizontal metal bars outside my window [his parents used to sometimes stand on them, but there are plenty of bars left], and now when the squab will go outside, he'll be able easily hop onto the platform where he'll have plenty of room to exercise his wings without worrying about falling, and all three of the squab and his parents will be able to stand on it. I'll also be able to put some food and water on it, which is another plus. I really hope it'll work.

Also, it rained a bit over the past few days. While the nest is expertly located to avoid any water, the small gap through which the pigeons enter and exit is still exposed to the elements, and some of the water could travel on the small channels and get to the nest and wet it [and did, but just barely, this time]. While it is not a big problem at the moment since it is summer and the pigeons got through these rain spurts just fine, I think that after the squab fledged, I'll have to lay the nest on something to slightly elevate it [even 1cm of elevation would do] so the water won't touch and dampen the nest, while I do some cleaning.

I have some uncooked oats [https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0889/8624/products/6150028_1024x1024.jpg?v=1434947117] - is that a safe thing to give the pigeons to eat uncooked, right out of the box? How about uncooked rice?
 

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If you want to feed them, rather put down a good seed mix for pigeons. However, putting out food will also attract other pigeons and if the baby is out there alone they might attack and can seriously hurt him. I think providing a safe spot for them to nest is more than what most people would do. The parents know where to find food, and once the baby start flying they will also teach him where to go for food.
 

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Your neighbours might also not feel the same way as you do about pigeons. So, if there's a real large gathering of pigeons fighting for food - this might become a future problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Those are good points. There is small wooded area right outside, with trees and bushes and whatnot, so I'm sure the pigeons will find food quite easily and your point is well taken. Overall, there is no shortage of food for pigeons in cities. I do wonder about where the pigeons find clean water though, especially in the summer.

I noticed that since I installed the flat platform, the pigeons actively avoid it and move around it. They used to sit on the steel bars in the spot on which it is laid but now they'll just move to the side of the platform and sit close by. I took your advice and didn't put food on it, but I did put water (which I replace daily) but they don't seem to touch it or get close. I'll try to build a proper water feeder and see if they'll prefer it better than standing water in a receptacle. I didn't notice any other birds come near the platform either.

This may be stupid, but since I don't know much about pigeons, I'm worried that when the squab will finally start trying to fly, he won't be able to get back up to the nest on the second floor of the building. Is that a legitimate concern, or will nature take its course and he'll be able to reach this height right away?
 

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They will eventually become used to the platform, as long as they keep on feeding the baby that's all good. You can add some apple cider vinegar (5ml to 1l drinking water) to the drinking water twice of 3 times a week. This helps to keep them healthy.

Sometimes the babies do leave the nest a bit too soon and will have trouble getting back up. It's easier to fly down than upwards again. Hopefully there aren't cats around that might get to him if that happens. If you do see the baby sitting on the ground, just pick him up and put him back in the nest. Touching him won't stop the parents to continue feeding him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Actually, there are quite a few cats around, and dogs, and even jackals and at least one family of wild boars (I know it sounds strange but it's true! Right in the city! I've seen them multiple times).

Once the squab begins his flight tryouts, I'll keep an eye out, but I doubt if I'll be able to spot him if he touches ground because of the terrain he'll be flying into, which has a lot of bushes and the like. There are trees very close by, though, so he might\should be able to fly down from the nest area in a downward trajectory and still land on a tree, I hope. I'll go down looking for him if it looks like he's earthbound.

I think there's a bit more time for it though. While the squab is growing nicely, he looks like a 12 day old squab from pictures I've seen. I may have messed up counting the days. He's covered in feathers but they are still not fully grown. He's doing fine though.

I'll get some apple cider vinegar, and maybe put some crushed garlic in the water until then? Anyway, it's a relief to know that his parents will still take care of him even if I touch him (which I'll only do in a case of emergency, no need to interfere).

I have to say I'm quite taken by these pigeons. I've really grown attached to them.

On a sidenote, I once went down to empty the trash at around 3am and it was all dark, and I wasn't all that observant, having not expecting anything out of the ordinary, when suddenly, right as I step out of the building entrance, a huge shadow just leaps out from 2m in front of me and into the big patch of wild bushes and trees in the main patch of land in front of the building. I actually felt the vibrations in the earth, it was so heavy. It had a vague shape of a big wild boar (it happened so fast) and then I finally put two and two together and realized for certain what those squealing sounds I hear at night every once in a while. Since then I had managed to get a good look from my window at around the same time, and could see a cute family of wild boars, with a grown male, a grown female (I'm guessing) and quite a few small and cute little piglets. At least they look cute from a distance, I wouldn't try to engage them when they are with their babies as they could get protective, even though they all scare easy at the sight of man movement.
 

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Crushed garlic in the drinking water will also do them good. Unfortunately pigeons are a foodsource to so many predators out there and they breed so often cause the survival rate of the babies are so slim once they fledge.

Let's hope yours will be one of the lucky ones, still another 2 weeks to go. At least he has got a human friend that will be on the lookout for him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Update (Squab still growing, all is well)

Just wanted to post a short update and reassure that both parents and squab are doing well. I still haven't seen the parents use the platform or the water but yesterday the entire receptacle was empty and some water was around it, so I guess at least someone used it, probably the parents. Still haven't purchased apple vinegar so for now I go with the crushed garlic soaked in the water for 30 minutes, then remove it and leave the water outside.

The parents are very dedicated and still check on the squab multiple times during the day, feed him several times a day, and his mother stays with him during the night. They are always close by, and sometimes they even cram themselves all together for a few short minutes at the same spot, or have one of the parents feed the squab while the other waits right outside the opening.

It is a shame the parents are still rather skittish whenever they see me but I suppose it's for the best, as it is imperative that feral pigeons remain afraid of people. The squab is a bit different though. It used to be, when his parents would leave him alone during the day and I would come very close to look at him, that he'd stand up, probably afraid or the creature on the other side of the glass. But now, he doesn't seem to mind and just sits there, totally nonchalant. Will he stay close by after fledging? Will he come back to this spot again once he's grown and takes flight? I'll miss all of them if\when they leave. I know I started this thread because of the smell and hygienic concerns but I don't care about the smell anymore. The reason for cleaning the droppings once they leave is now because I'd like to avoid the emergence of parasites harmful for the birds that can accumulate if the nest is re-used several times. All the birds seem fine though, they don't itch or scratch or anything.


Anyway, here is a picture from today (18/06/2018).
 

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He's really gorgeous, and has grown quite a bit in a weeks time. By standing up when he sees you, he is trying to make himself look "bigger" to scare you off. Once he has fledged and independant of the parents, they might chase him away when they want to start a new nest in the same spot.

One gets so attached to them when they are so small, you really are very fortunate to be able to watch him grow up. Glad the smell don't bother you any more, enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Yes, I think he's (I'm just guessing his gender) so beautiful! Pigeons in general are beautiful birds, but I have a feeling that this one, once fully grown, might really stand out.

Thanks for explaining about him standing on his legs when I approach, I had a feeling it is something like that. He doesn't do that anymore and seems to be used to me and continues to sit, unbothered when I approach him now. I guess it stands to reason--the only world he has seen so far has been the inside of my apartment. He's into quite a shock once he gets to see the outside world.

I am very lucky to have experienced this, but even more lucky that it has gone so smoothly (up until now, knock on wood). It made me appreciate all of the members of this forum so much more for what you all do, as I'm not sure if I would have been equipped to handle things if something went wrong. I decided to be prepared, though, and have purchased some pigeon food, and I'll acquire some syringes and pigeon formula (for young squabs, for hand-feeding) as soon as I can, so I'll be prepared in the future, should anything goes wrong with future nestlings.

Something interesting happened last evening: After tending to the squab, the parents sat next to each other outside, watching the sunset as they do from time to time. Then, they both flew together and didn't come back the entire night. The father came back to feed the squab this morning and checks in on him, staying close by, and I'm sure the mother will come back in the evening as usual. I wonder why did they fly and spent the entire night away. Could it be it was their version of date night? :)

Also, I saw the male scouting the opposite side of the window, which is quite long - imagine the same nest location only 3 meters away, to the right. Is it possible for two nests of two different couples (I'm thinking grown squab with a nest at the right and parents with the current nest on the left. We can dream!) to be about 2-3 meters apart, or is that too close?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
New egg...

Well, maybe the parents did have a date night recently, because after the female came back the following evening, she stayed almost the entire day with the squab too. I thought it weird she's pulling a double-duty (the male also came and spent a lot of time with both), until I saw she laid another egg. So... what do I do with that? Wouldn't a dirty nest be harmful to the new baby? I hoped I'd have the time to clean up a bit :( I hope there isn't another egg coming within the next few hours\days since taking care of two squabs in that space might get a bit crowded and a bit of a challenge for the parents. Is there a risk of the squab pecking the egg and breaking it? Anything I can do to help the situation?
 

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She will probably lay the next egg tomorrow and then starts incubating it. So for the next 2 1/2 weeks the eggs will be incubated. During that time the baby will have fledged and start to follow the one parent around while the other one keeps the new babies warm.

I would just leave things the way they are. You can remove the eggs, but then they might find another spot elsewhere to built a nest. All those droppings will eventually form a nice rounded "nest" and won't be harmful to you or the new babies.

This is all quite interesting. I never thought they lay eggs so soon again, thought they waited until the first lot of babies fledge, and then start laying again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
What's even more interesting is that when the mother left for a little while (she came back), the squab incubated the egg in her absence! Pigeons are so cool and clever.

I'll refrain from interfering, but I worry the mother will lose too much calcium. I also worry because summer will enter its peak pretty soon and it might get too hot and humid in there, even though the only time there is a direct sun on the nest\shutters location is in the afternoon when it is not as hot. I hope they'll all be ok.
 

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She will have enough calcium, their bodies are designed to lay eggs and breed. Putting out water close by like you are doing, will help during the hot days.
 
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